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Raleigh City Council OKs proposal to provide officers with body cameras

Posted March 15

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— The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a proposal that will provide 600 body cameras to the city's police department. The decision came about two weeks after a 24-year-old was shot and killed by an officer in southeast Raleigh.

The discussion, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 29, was postponed when Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown had to respond to the shooting scene following Akiel Denkins' death.

Kimani Fields, a friend of Denkins', attended Tuesday's meeting. He said he felt like he needed to be there.

"(The officers) take an oath to protect and serve us, so when something happens, when someone loses their life and police have something to do with it, we should know what happened," Fields said.

Deck-Brown told City Council members that her department has been studying body cameras for months, but the community made it clear Denkins' death gave the conversation more immediacy.

Cameras will be made available to officers over the next three years and will cost about $5.2 million over a five-year period.

For the first year, about 100 officers will wear the devices, and another 250 devices will be added the following years. The first officers could be outfitted with the cameras by the end of the year.

Deck-Brown said the cameras should help when it comes to public trust, but she cautioned that the cameras are not an "end all be all."

"The public's trust must begin with who we are as people," Deck-Brown said. "The camera does not make us trustworthy. I have to earn that trust."

There are still many important questions that remain, including how long the video will be stored and who will have access to the video.

"If the public does not have access as we've seen in other cases, and the police are the only ones to get it and release it, then they can manipulate film as much as they want, and that is not going to help with public trust," Fields said.

The cost of the cameras will be a part of the city's upcoming budget discussion.


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